Today’s Big Fight: Centrist Opinion vs. Centrist Opinion

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Jonathan Chait is annoyed with the Washington Post editorial board, which says today that “neither party has staked out anything like a serious negotiating position” in the sequester talks. For some reason, though, they seem to have forgotten entirely that President Obama has, in fact, staked out a serious position. This is from the Post’s own news pages a few weeks ago:

During the negotiations between Obama and Boehner, the president offered about $900 billion in spending cuts….At the same time, Obama insists tax revenue must be further increased in exchange for spending cuts. The bill approved by Congress this week raised slightly more than $600 billion of revenue over 10 years by raising tax rates. Obama now wants to raise about $600 billion more by limiting tax breaks.

This sounds perfectly serious, unless you consider the very idea of closing loopholes to raise revenue to be self-evidently unserious. And yet, as Chait points out, the Post editorial board doesn’t consider the idea unserious. In fact, they’re basically on board with the idea:

When you hear that “neither party” is addressing an issue, you probably think that one of the parties is the president….In fact, as such places as the Washington Post have reported, Obama is offering to replace the sequester with $600 billion in increased tax revenue plus $900 billion in spending cuts. The Post does not argue that this offer amounts to dangerous, high-tax liberalism. It does not argue that it’s a fair proposal but Obama should go further for the sake of placating Republicans. It doesn’t say Obama’s offer is great but couldn’t pass Congress, or that Obama should instead be making his offer in person, or by handwritten letter, or while gently massaging John Boehner’s bunions. The editorial says nothing at all. It accuses Obama of seeming content to blame Republicans.

“We’re done with revenue,” say the Republicans. They seem to believe that agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts permanently for everyone except a tiny sliver of rich people just flat-out exhausts any further potential for raising revenue. Obama obviously disagrees, and standard Beltway centrist opinion—for example, the Washington Post editorial board—is basically on Obama’s side. For some reason, though, standard centrist outlets—for example, the Washington Post editorial board—are unwilling to come right out and say so. Why is this? Obama’s position is basically the same as theirs with only the change of a few minor details. Why expend so much effort to pretend otherwise?

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate